My Super Sweet 16 DIY Solar Panel Kit Videos

Thunderbolt Magnum 45-Watt Solar Panel Kit

If you’ve been batting around the idea of picking up a Thunderbolt Magnum45-Watt Solar Panel Kit #68751, now’s the time to strike, my friend. This Friday-Sunday, March 8-10, the legendary Harbor Freight Tools Sidewalk Sale is running, with the solar panel kit going for a cool $139.99! And if you miss the sale, no worries– between now and Monday, March 18, the kit remains on sale for just $149.99. Talk about Daylight Savings Time (that’s OK, you’ll get it later…)!

Perhaps you’ve thought that the idea of setting up a solar system would be cool, but also a little intimidating. What’s in the kit? How do you put it together? What else do you need? How much do you need to know? The truth is, you don’t have to be a whiz kid to put something functional and efficient together for your home, garage, barn, shed, RV, camp or bug-out shelter.

First, what’s included in the kit, and what can it do? Not long ago, Dan Rojas, owner of Green Power Science put out a series of YouTube videos, explaining it pretty well.

In his first video, he goes over what the kit includes and also points out that you’ll also need at least one 12-volt battery (2 or more would be better– he recommends deep cycle) and a power inverter to make the system fully useful. For his demonstration he uses the Cen-Tech 750 Watt Power Inverter, but in the spirit of “More Is Better”– that is, if you intend to use the solar system for larger machinery or appliances– I suggest getting the Chicago Electric 1500/3000 Power Inverter. Of course, it depends on what you need the solar energy for. If you’re in a cabin and intend to occasionally vacuum or use a microwave, the 750 watt inverter won’t cut it.

Chicago Electric 1500/3000 Watt Power Inverter

 

Here’s a general guide of determining how big of an inverter you might need:

 

Appliance   Est. Watts   Appliance   Est. Watts
Cell phone 24 CD player 400
iPod 120 Toaster 1200
TV 25″ 175 Jig saw 350
Laptop computer 65-90 Circular saw 1250
Computer & monitor 400 1/2″ drill 700
Printer 75 Refrigerator 500
VCR 50 Vacuum 750
CPAP 200 Sub pump 1000
Blender 400 40″ fan 1100
Space heater 1000 Iron 1000
Coffee maker 800 Satellite dish 75
Microwave 1250 PS2, Xbox 125

Dan posted other informative videos, including 3-Solar Panel DIY Wiring and Solar Panel Wiring Configurations. You can catch his whole YouTube series here.

If you are really considering putting together a solar kit, one of best DIY solar websites to get acquainted with is the Do It Yourself Solar Energy Forum. This terrific site is a wealth of information with tips,  tutorials, videos and plain old general knowledge. Chances are good if you have a question, it’s been asked and answered on this forum. There’s a lot of coverage on the Harbor Freight 45-watt solar panel kit, too. Videos include everything from assembly, set-up, add-ons and plenty of personal mods from folks looking to build the better mousetrap. There are even videos on solar panel kit performance during rain and snow. My favorite video on this site was made by Larry “The Solar Toolman” Taylor:

I don’t think there’s a more practical and informative DIY video on home solar power set-ups out there. Larry followed this first how-to video with a Workshop #2 and a three-part Workshop #3. If you want to get some insight of just what you can do with your newly-harnessed solar power, definitely check these out.

Preppers represent a good number of the solar kit shoppers, which only makes sense. Nobody anticipates contingencies like a prepper. Only two weeks ago I wrote about Chappy from NewSurvivalSkills.com and how he employed a Harbor Freight solar panel briefcase to get power in the wild.

Another prepper clip I came across was from a guy with the moniker, ncprepper1. He uses three solar panel kits to run a 36″ TV (even in the event of a zombie apocalypse, you gotta have your TV), laptop, lights, a camera system, and more. To make room for even more solar kits, he shows how to build a wooden rack that can add three, making a total of 18 solar panels . Not to be outdone, LDSPrepper installed 4 solar panel kits (180 watts) on the side of his house with a 1500 watt power inverter,  and poses a convincing argument for why he decided to go with Harbor Freight solar panels.

Incidentally, LDSPrepper– who actually has a whole series of solar panel videos worth plowing through– repeatedly credits another YouTuber, econewpower, for helping him get started. This guy supplies his own treasure trove of solar panel kit how-to videos: I recommend starting with his How To Install Harbor Freight Solar Panels Part 1 . I think there are five parts in this series, plus he has other DIY solar videos on hand.

With the advent of spring fast approaching, it’s a great time to get started on your solar system project. Whether it be for emergencies, saving electricity costs or going green, solar is a solid alternative energy that, in extreme cases, could potentially save you and your family from losing creature comforts, food supplies or even lives.

Check out these and other videos on DIY solar panel kits and projects online!

Chicago Electric 2.5 hp 10-in. Tile-Brick Saw – Pays For Itself Over and Again!

I can’t believe it’s already March. It was warm and sunny this weekend, and all the garages in the cul-de-sac were open, shop tools howling and humming on new projects as kids took to the street with bikes and razors, and wives clustered in yards, catching up on all those mysterious lady-topics. I love this time of year.

A good friend of mine recently moved into the neighborhood and, for one of his initial projects, he wanted to re-tile his three bathrooms. He also talked about renovating the patio. On my advice, he picked up a Chicago Electric 2.5 HP 10″ Industrial Tile/Brick Saw #69275 at Harbor Freight– with a 20% off coupon, the price dropped to $204. The tool would pay for itself, plus some, after just one job!

Chicago Electric 2.5 HP 10-inch Tile-Brick Saw

While you may be thinking the price is so low, you’ll be happy it lasts long enough to finish the one job, think again– this beast is a keeper! Built in an over-sized steel frame, it comes with a precision linear bar system for smooth operation. The two-position cutting head lets you easily adjust the blade to handle tiles or bricks of various sizes. A built-in 3-gallon-per-minute water pump and a removable, high-impact ABS water tub are also included. Designed with a heavy-duty cast alloy column and cutting head for reduced vibration, this professional grade tile saw cuts tile up to 24”. The head pivots to allow for 22.5 and 45-degree bevel cuts, and the blade is adjustable for standard tiles or bricks up to 3-1/2″ thick.

I came across this video on YouTube this morning, submitted by a customer in 2010 who bought his tile saw back in 2006, and I thought it’d be a good way to show the machine in action. (The guy who shot it uses the handle, “jojuma91″. Out of gratitude, I included a link to his YouTube page)

Strange music compilation aside, this is an excellent illustration of the saw’s consistent, stellar performance.

In the DIY forum GarageJournal.com, the topic of “wet saws” comes up from time to time. Naturally, Harbor Freight is talked about– sometimes not flatteringly, but notice how those comments are from guys who didn’t actually own them. Here are a few I thought were worth mentioning:

“I have no complaints with my HF 10 inch wet saw. I cut all the bricks at crazy odd angles for my wood fired pizza oven and then cut a ton of bricks for my patio. It’s still going strong – and was quite accurate. I then got a new blade and used it to cut my granite counter tops. I bought it on a 20% off coupon when it had already been reduced in price. It looks bad but still runs great. I normally expect HF stuff to last me a single job. The saw has exceeded that expectation.” Chris

This next comment is so full of praise, I think the guy deserves a kickback (but you didn’t hear that from me):

“Another vote here for the Harbor Freight 10″ wet saw. A buddy of mine purchased one in 2003, for $279 I think it was. We have used this saw more than we ever thought we would. He tiled about 1400 square feet of porcelain floor tile with it, and a set of marble steps, lots of diagonal cuts, border, etc. The thought was, “Hey, if it lasts through this job, it will have paid for itself, vs. renting a saw”. Saw worked great.

He then did his whole brick driveway (curved borders) with it. Came through like a champ. I then borrowed it from him, and tiled the entire main “public” area of my house, around 2,000 square feet, in porcelain, with a border stripe, all tile set on the diagonal. It took me about 2 months of evenings and weekends. The saw kept on working like a champ. When I was done with that job, I gave it back to my buddy with $100 and a case of beer.

I just borrowed it from him again last month, to tile the shop bathroom (porcelain, pics at link below). Friggin’ thing is still working great. Keep a good diamond blade in it (as with all wet saws) and it won’t let you down.

My buddy (co-worker) and I were in HF the other day, and noticed that they sell the same saw now, 8 years later, for the same money, and now, it comes with a folding stand, which his did not. We had a good laugh. This saw certainly doesn’t owe us anything, at this point. When it finally dies someday, it will receive an appropriate viking funeral.”  Rob

One more…

“Another vote for the Harbor Freight 10″. I can’t even add up how much tile, brick and concrete it has cut in the last 5 or 6 years since I’ve had it. Just a belt and blade had to be replaced after I made the mistake of loaning it to a friend.”  incubus2432

Central Machinery Mobile Power Tool Table

Also, if you’re looking for mobility with your projects, you might want to consider the Central Machinery Folding Power Tool Stand #40612, also at Harbor Freight.

For more insight into the Chicago Electric 2.5 hp tile-brick saw, check out the customer reviews on our site!

Get Charged– and Pumped!– for 2013

As we watch winter getting smaller in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to start thinking about prepping all the warm weather toys for the coming months. I’m talking about the ATVs, the boat and water toys, the motorcycles, RV, lawn tractor, etc. — the stuff that’s been just sitting for the past five or so months. Unless you’ve been keeping them on life support with a battery float charger (which, by the way, would have been the forward-thinking thing to do, but if you’re like me, thoughts like that usually come late), they be dead, Jim.

Cen-Tech Battery Float Charger #42292

But l’d rather light a candle than curse your darkness. As it just so happens, Harbor Freight’s 3-in-1 Jump Starter & Power Supply is the perfect tool for just such a challenge.  This popular unit is a lifesaver when you’re stuck. Fully charged, it will jump 12-volt batteries ordinary jumper cables will fail. It provides a whopping 400 amp boost rate and comes a 3.6 watt light so you can see what you’re doing under the hood.

Cen-Tech Jump Starter & Power Supply

 

And as proud owners can attest, the Cen-Tech jump starter is a veritable bacon saver:

“I bought this Jump Box on Friday, charged it over night and set out for parades on Saturday morning. During the course of the day, I used it to jump 2 SUV’s and a pickup (all big V-8′s) that had dead batteries. It handled them all off of a single charge and according to the meter, it still had plenty of juice left. Very impressed. Also includes a cigarette lighter adapter that would let you charge/ recharge it from your boat/ car in an emergency.”  Jake S. – Slidell, IA

“Just emergency boosting two stranded cars made the unit pay for itself. Loaded with features that are sorely missing from more expensive “brand name” units; such as the excellent analog volt meter. Brand name units usually have lights instead of an actual volt meter. And the built-in A/C adapter, brand names usually have a wall brick adapter that is easily damaged or lost. The battery is a standard size AGM battery that can be easily accessed and replaced if needed. The flat back panel is great for modifications, I bolted a small DC to AC inverter to use as a mobile power supply for very light duty AC devices, I use mine to run a cd boombox on picnics, better than investing on pricey D cell batteries . The mods make my booster pack a little bit of a mutant, but they have come very handy when the power goes out, at a fraction of what an all in one unit would have cost. The molded plastic really takes the bumps well, and the battery charge lasts a long time, great tool.”  Jose Jiminez

The Cen-Tech 3-in-1 Jump Starter & Power Supply sells for a low $49.99 just $39.99 with a 20% coupon!– and is available on Harbor Freight’s website or in the store.

As the resuscitative process often involves inflating tires as well, you might want to dole out just a few more bucks and get the Chicago Electric Jump Starter with Air Compressor.

Chicago Electric Jump Starter-Air Compressor

This model has the same awesome power and features as the Cen-Tech, but also comes with an invaluable 260 psi air compressor. Think that’s overkill? Think again!

“Pumped up 5 tires from a dead flat. Jump-started more than 20 cars ‘n trucks.  Still running strong. Even used in power outtage, hooked up a converter to the cig outlet and had light and TV to watch, lasted about 9 hours .”  hueyhotdogg2000 – Bula, OH

“This unit has been a great addition to my travel gear. It has been able to jump start a diesel pickup truck in the winter and the compressor has kept everything from my kids’ bicycle tires to a flat on a friend’s SUV inflated. I also found that by using the 12-V outlet with my inverter, I can use items like my TV while camping and not run down my vehicle’s battery nor keep the engine running.”  Jeff G.

For the garage, barn, car, boat and more– the Chicago Electric jump starter/air compressor can be had for a mere $60.99 ($48.79 with 20% coupon)! For that, you can buy two!

Just remember where you heard about this. You’re welcome.